Former Los Angeles mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa has been appointed a professor of the practice of policy at the Sol Price School of Public Policy.
In a press release sent out by the university last Friday, USC said Villaraigosa “will work on innovative, large-scale approaches to the significant policy issues facing California.”
His role as a professor of the practice of policy is reserved for individuals “who have made significant contributions in the public practice of their field of expertise,” according to the release.
Villaraigosa previously served as the mayor of Los Angeles from 2005 to 2013. His tenure included increasing funding for public transportation, reforming and expanding the city’s police department and working toward the improvement of public education. Prior to this, he served on the California State Assembly for six years, two of which as the speaker of the Assembly.
Villaraigosa will lecture at both the undergraduate and graduate level on a variety of topics, ranging from sustainable urban development to executive leadership in the public sector.
Dean Jack H. Knott of the Price School of Public Policy said Villaraigosa’s role will be an important contribution to the development of Price students.
“He will be a professor of practice and this is an important element of the kind of education students in a professional school receive,” Knott said. “It’s very important they be connected to the world of practice, that they have an opportunity to react with someone who’s played leadership roles in both [Los Angeles] and nationally.”
In collaboration with USC, Villaraigosa will also spearhead the Initiative for Restoring the California Dream. Knott said the initiative will center around issues such as transportation, infrastructure and public safety.
“It’s an initiative to really focus on the future of California, addressing some of the key issues of the state that are important and our school has some expertise in.”
The former mayor said he is intent on utilizing his prior experiences and strengths at USC.
“The Price School is one of the nation’s leading policy schools, with particular strengths in my own policy interests, such as transportation and infrastructure development,” Villaraigosa said in a press release. “I am excited about working with the school to propose solutions to some of the state’s and nation’s critical policy challenges.”
Over the past year, Villaraigosa was a part of various events and engagements with the Price School. These events were where the relationship between USC and the former mayor began, Knott said.
“Students found [Villaraigosa] very engaging and he enjoyed it, so we expressed interest in whether or not he wanted more engagements with the school,” Knott said. “He said he’d like to explore it, so [the appointment] came from that relationship.”
In addition to the teaching position, Villaraigosa has also recently accepted advisory contracts with global public relations firm Edelman and nutritional products company Herbalife Ltd., according to the Los Angeles Times. Knott stated these other appointments should not interfere with his work at Price.
“We worked out a set of activities that he would be engaged with at USC,” Knott said. “He’s committed to it and so are we. That’s what we’re focusing on.”
Deborah Natoli, an associate teaching professor and director of the professional doctorate program at the Price School, noted the excitement among staff in light of the announcement.
“We had a faculty meeting [Friday morning] and the energy is just abounding,” Natoli said.
Natoli believes Villaraigosa will be a valuable asset to the USC community.
“I see Villaraigosa, I think we all do, as a recognized national leader who’s fulfilled the American dream,” Natoli said. “His coming to the Price School lives our mission because we’re a school that talks about turning theory into action and changing the world, and one life can change the world and [Villaraigosa] is an example of that.”
Knott also said he thinks Villaraigosa’s work at USC will prove incredibly beneficial.
“I think he’s going to help us in bringing people together as a conveyor, allowing us to have dialogue around some of these major issues in a way that we wouldn’t be able to do without his presence here,” he said.
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